Ugliness is not only about aesthetics for me. A place can have a grimy atmosphere, a dark history, or a societal flaw that adds to the experience. In a recent online post, people share their picks for the ugliest places they have visited. Here are some valuable insights for all travelers.
1. Odessa, Texas
West Texas is an acquired taste for some, and Odessa receives a share of negative mentions in this thread. “The amount of trash and litter along the roadways and in town was awful,” says someone who may have posted on Tripadvisor before. A former West Texan concurs: “I'd never move back to my old hometown,” she says, “and to even get me back in Texas would take at least, like, $10 million.”
2. North Sulawesi, Indonesia
“Anywhere in the city sucks, the jungles are better, but there's still garbage everywhere,” warns a visitor. Sadly, waste management mentalities differ in some countries; a lack of education leads to poor local environments — even in landscapes you don't expect.
3. Cairo, Egypt
“I wouldn't trade the experiences from there,” says a one-time resident, “but the city itself is a massive trash heap with questionable building codes.” I have to agree with this in part because I once lived there. If you can step through the more sensory overload-inducing zones, you can find some pockets of calm and eloquent architecture. “Egypt is building a brand new capital out to the east of Cairo,” adds another poster. “I'm pretty sure they've given up on the old city as well.”
4. Dhaka, Bangladesh
We must tread carefully when complaining about developing countries, but in 2023 most urban centers will be educated enough to organize a city clean-up. Dhaka in Bangladesh is not one of them. “The entire city smells like a sewer. Not a single street is trash-free,” a previous visitor warns. “It was such a stark contrast to the countryside, which is absolutely stunning.”
5. Middlesbrough, England
I once visited Middlesbrough for a working weekend, and the first thing that hit me on arrival was the industrial smog from their steel and ironworks. As I ventured further in, I was greeted with scores of balding, tattooed men with too much time on their hands and some seriously ugly post-war architecture. Middlesbrough is the urban equivalent of having influenza. Thankfully, the smog has cleared now — regardless, I will never visit Middlesborough again.
6. Nouakchott, Mauritania
Someone who lived in Mauritania's capital city complained of garbage being everywhere, goats eating the trash, and camels being dispatched for butchery in the open. “It is a poorly-planned capital of over 1 million people. Most of the roads are dirt, and due to proximity to the Sahara, it constantly feels like you are at the beach no matter what you do,” explains the former resident. “A layer of sand covers everything.”
7. Tijuana, Mexico
“What a sad place,” laments a commenter. “Between the drunk American frat boys and the children hustling gum, it broke my heart.” Some places are the victim of their geographical location. Tijuana's proximity to the U.S. border means it attracts a transient — and, for the most part, decadent — clientele.
8. Bratislava, Slovakia
“Total ashtray of Eastern Europe,” argues someone who doesn't like the Slovakian capital city. “No public transportation. Depressing infrastructure.” However, the commenter does concede that the city does at least have some good nightclubs. “Gotta love that exchange rate, though,” jokes a moviegoer in homage to the 2004 slacker comedy Eurotrip.
9. Central Zambia
A well-traveled doctor visited much of eastern and southern Africa in their early career, and they cite some stunning places, including much of Zambia. However, their depiction of central Zambia sounds dreary. “No hills, no bigger trees, no lakes or rivers,” says the observer. “Just endless, flat scrub for a couple of hundred miles — it was almost painful how dull the scenery was.”
10. West Memphis, Arkansas
One traveler recalls taking a wrong turn while visiting Memphis, ending up in Arkansas, where things became strange. “The road suddenly was crumbling,” explains the fearful motorist, “The grass immediately turned brown — as if it hadn't been watered for weeks.” They go on to discuss seeing a bodybag on the side of the road. “You ended up in West Memphis, Arkansas,” warns a one-time visitor.
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